Prosecution rests its case in Fields trial

The Commonwealth of Virginia concluded its case against James Alex Fields Jr., who was arrested during the Charlottesville neo-Nazi protests in August 2017

ns-JamesAlexFields-CourtesyAlbemarle-CharlottesvilleRegionalJail

James Alex Fields Jr. was found guilty of driving his car into a crowd of counter protesters at the Unite the Right rally in August 2017, killing one and injuring dozens of others.

Courtesy Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail

The prosecution rested their case against James Alex Fields Jr. after submitting several pieces of evidence, including text and phone conversations between Fields and his mother, two images Field shared on Instagram and police videos of Fields’ apprehension, interview and indictment.

Fields is accused of driving his car into a group of counter protesters at the white supremacist rally in August 2017, killing one individual — Heather Heyer — and injuring dozens. The attack yielded the indictments of one count of first degree murder, five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, one count of hit and run and three counts of malicious wounding.

The Commonwealth submitted to evidence a text message conversation between Fields and his mother. Following his mother’s plea to be cautious at the rally, Fields said, “We are not the one who need to be careful.” Attached to that statement was an image of Adolf Hitler.

The defense objected to the admission of the image to the evidence on the grounds that it would make the jury prejudiced towards Fields. However, Judge Richard E. Moore denied the defense’s motion to exclude the image. 

“Probative value in this case outweighs any prejudicial effect,” Moore said.

Video from Charlottesville Police Department Detective Steven Young, the lead investigator of the case, showed the apprehension of Fields following the event. On the video, Fields repeatedly said, “I am really sorry.”

Fields went on to justify his actions. 

“I didn’t want to hurt people, but I thought they were attacking me,” Fields said. 

Young said he observed blood on the front of the vehicle.

A video of Fields’ interview was also submitted to evidence. On the video, Fields inquires about the wellbeing of the victims. Fields is told that one person is dead and others are injured. Following this news, Fields hyperventilated and cried for several minutes.

In an excerpted call from Fields to his mother from Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail on Dec. 7, 2017, submitted to evidence, Fields expressed resentment toward Heather Heyer’s mother for speaking out against him.

Fields refers to Heyer’s mother as an “anti-white liberal” and a “communist.” His mother expresses that Heyer’s mother just lost her daughter. In response, Fields said, “It doesn’t f—ing matter, she’s a communist. It’s not up for question, she is.”

On March 21, 2018, Fields expresses distaste for anti-fascist activists and claims that they support Islamist terror organization ISIS in an excerpted call to his mother from jail played for the jury. Additionally, Fields said, “I get mobbed by a violent group of terrorists, and, for defending my person, I get placed in jail.”

With the jury out of the room, when the prosecution rested its case, the defense moved to strike all indictments except the hit and run on the grounds that the Commonwealth had not adequately proven intent. The Commonwealth countered that, by precedent, in such situations a car may be regarded as a lethal weapon, and they must only prove intent to kill a human being, not a specific person, which they claimed they had adequately done.

Moore decided that the indictments should not be dismissed and the verdict should be left to the jury. 

“I don’t know what intent he could’ve had other than to kill people,” Moore said.

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